Day Twelve - Wednesday, February 6th, 2002 - Sanyang Nature Camp

Well, today was a holiday but it turned out to be not exactly much of a holiday. Well, we had nothing scheduled for today…

It turns out that we were promised to play a game of football against the primary school (or at least a representative sample). Since none of us are football players (only two of us had ever played before) this was going to be quite an interesting event.

We headed out of the camp at about 9:30 giving up waiting for Ebrima who had the VSO vehicle. We wandered down the road a bit until we came to some shade where we stood and waited for a bush taxi. There is a bush taxi route (such as they are) between Sanyang and the beach so it was just a matter of time. As we waited a few of us got a bit nervous when a very upset bull was walking down the road towards us (evidently missing “his” women). He was pawing the ground and being awfully noisy – he was MUCH bigger than us and we were all prepared to jump over the barbed wire fence if we had to get away. Thankfully he just passed on by and did not bother us (as the trainers indicated he would, though how they knew…). Eventually a bush taxi came along and we all hopped on board. We were all scattered throughout the taxi with my sitting behind the rather young looking driver (surely he cannot have his license yet?) with my legs scraping the car battery which was in the middle of the aisle (such as it was). Philip was in the back practicing his somewhat limited Wollof on the others in the taxi (much to their merriment).

Eventually we made it to Sanyang, walking from the town “square” back to the primary school and the football pitch. The road was under SERIOUS construction today with large earth movers pushing dirt around everywhere. It is amazing no one is hurt since the road is still open as they do this…

There was a rather large crowd of children around when we made our way past the pitch to a tree for shade before we got underway. It was amusing as they all stood an equal distance away from us as we sat around and chatted – attempting to ignore the crowd that seemed to grow by the minute. We were, of course, quite a hit. Marcel, who will be teaching further in-country, sat and chatted with some children for a few minutes as well.

A perfect day for a football match – the pitch was extremely dry and dusty and the temperature was climbing by the minute. It was lucky that the game was limited to only two halves of 15 minutes each otherwise there may have been a few casualties. The school teacher Laumin and the language tutors joined our teams which was good since Laumin then scored the first goal. The children managed to even up the score but Marcel scored the winning penalty goal in the last few minutes of the game. The referee was a bit dubious and the rules were only enforced in so far as anyone cared (though “offside” was called a few times resulting in a few of us on the VSO side gathering together to figure out exactly what it meant – I still don't know). During the game I was able to step on a child and knock over Christine much to my embarrassment…Oh dear.

During the half time, it was amusing as Jane and I left the main group of volunteers to find our water bottles, to see the group in the middle of an empty circle surrounded by hundreds of children simply looking at them.

After the game it was good that Ebrima (NOT VSO Ebrima) showed up with Baobab juice which really hit the spot. We headed back to the town square where we hopped onto the same bus we had caught earlier for the trip back to the camp (2 Delasis, by the way).

After our lunch of beef “stew” with cold vegetables we headed back to the beach (lazy sods that we are). We spent the rest of the afternoon reading, swimming, walking and burning on the beach – with the occasional drink from the bar making the whole event a bit more bearable. The water was a bit warmer and calmer today so I could enjoy it for a bit longer.

Dinner was another fish dish which we followed by another game of cards between me and Jane – Alhaji seeming to have vanished for the evening.

⇒ Continued to Day Thirteen - Thursday, February 7th, 2002 - Sanyang Nature Camp